Cann, James

February 20, 2017

Rev. James Allan Cann, aged 64, died on February 20, 2017 at Sawtelle Family Hospice House in Reading, MA. He was born in Hampton, Virginia on September 10, 1952 and raised in Saugus, MA, son of the late Harry W. and Ernestine A. (Rogers) Cann. He was married to Barbara (Caffarella) Cann for 38 years. He was greatly loved by his family.

He graduated from Saugus High School in Saugus, MA in 1970; Asbury College in Wilmore, KY in 1978; and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA in 1982.

He served honorably in the United States Air Force from 1972 to 1976, with the rank of Sergeant, and became an Air Traffic Control Radio Repairman.

He was ordained in the Southern New England Conference of the United Methodist Church and was the pastor at six churches across his 38 years in ministry, including the Community United Methodist Church in Byfield, MA, 1979 - 1981; Center United Methodist Church in Saugus, MA, 1981 - 1985; Old South United Methodist Church in Reading, MA, 1985 - 1992; Plymouth United Methodist Church in Plymouth, MA, 1992 - 2003; First United Methodist Church in Rochester, NH, 2003 - 2012; and United Methodist Church of Westford in Westford, MA, 2012 - 2017.

He lived for nearly ten years after his liver cancer diagnosis in 2007 and subsequent live donor transplant from his son. He continued in full-time ministry until just a few weeks ago.

He was actively involved with service groups throughout his life, including the Southern New England Walk to Emmaus/Chrysalis and the Crossroads Emmaus/Chrysalis of New England, where he was a past spiritual director and was instrumental in forming the new Chrysalis communities for youth; the Foundation for Alcohol Education, where he was a past President; and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell.

As all of his friends and congregations will attest, he had the gift of humor and was able to bring people together through laughter. In his last few days, he was still telling knock-knock jokes with his grandson. He learned to repair electronics when he was young and always kept up with the latest technology, even owning one of the first models of home personal computers. He prided himself on finding great deals on electronics and vacations. He enjoyed exciting roller coasters and fun camping trips across the country. He played guitar since he was a teenager and used his musical talents to play in youth ministry. He also inspired both his daughter and son to become musicians themselves. 

He is survived by his daughter Bethany Castillo Cann, her husband, Hugo, and their son, Luke, of Philadelphia, PA and his son David Cann of Burlingame, CA. He also leaves behind two sisters, Mary (Cann) Vigasin of Tucson, AZ, and Debbie (Cann) Manning and her husband, David, of Revere, MA; nieces and nephews David Vigasin of Tucson, AZ, Jennifer (Vigasin) Bays, her husband Nathan, and son Andrew of Tucson, AZ, James Willis, his wife Cristina, and son Liam, of Bloomington, IN, and Melissa Manning of Revere, MA.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend visiting hours Thursday, February 23, 2017, 2-4 PM and 6-8 PM at Bisbee-Porcella Funeral Home on 549 Lincoln Ave. in Saugus, MA. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 2 PM at the United Methodist Church of Westford, MA.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell (, New England Organ Bank (, or the Preachers' Aid Society of New England (